Cinematic Releases: A Rocket Ship Straight to Planet WTF: Kuso (2017) - Reviewed

Flying Lotus AKA Steven Ellison is an experimental and often times psychedelic hip-hop artist that is constantly pushing the boundaries of the genre. Kuso, a film billed as a body-horror comedy, is one of his greatest achievements and encapsulates everything that is wonderful and weird about his work. 

The loose premise for Kuso is that Los Angeles had a devastating earthquake and the surviving inhabitants have mutated and are stricken with an unknown disease. I say "loosely" because while there is an underlying narrative, the film is more like a collection of vignettes than a cohesive story--though the different characters do cross paths from time to time. The vignettes encompass many different styles to include animation (by Salad Fingers creator David Firth), computer animation by 3D Cool World, and some extreme horror and sexual elements. This is one of the most disgusting movies I have seen in a long time and it is filled to the brim with cum, shit, vomit, pus, and any other human body fluid you can imagine. I suspect some of it is done for shock value, but there is meaning and depth to the depravity underneath it all. Kuso has an Afrocentric vibe to it that permeates the look and some of the social commentary posed in the film.

It helps if you imagine Kuso as more of a sandbox for artists to experiment in than a movie in the traditional sense. Kuso is the Japanese word for "bullshit" and while this sounds like a negative adjective for this film, it describes it perfectly. There is an internet term called "shitposting" wherein people post purposely low quality off-topic comments and memes to derail a conversation. Kuso is essentially derailing what people think a movie should be like. It's a bunch of insane and creative bullshit just for the hell of it. Does it all work? Not in the slightest, but I love this film for trying. I can now say I have seen an alien bug that lives in someone's asshole cure a man's phobia for giant breasts and my life is all the richer for it.

Kuso's music, which was composed by Flying Lotus, is fantastic--it's a mixture of trap music, acid jazz, ambient electronica and even some stock music thrown in (Ren and Stimpy fans will recognize one of the stock pieces used). It's just as nuts as the visuals and the perfect accompaniment.

This film isn't for everyone, and your enjoyment of it will hinge on your tolerance for both surrealism and absurdist comedy. If these things are your bag though, Kuso is the perfect movie to expand your horizons.

 --Michelle Kisner